Tuesday Morning: 25 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 12:14-29 ~ Faith listens

Tuesday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Hebrews 12:14-29(NLT)

A Call to Listen to God

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”

No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.

Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.
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Morning Reflection:

Faith listens

“Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking.”
– Hebrews 12:25 –

The remainder of the Book of Hebrews addresses the question: “How are Christians to live in a hostile society?”

This world is not our home; our goal is “a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” We are on pilgrimage to the city of God – a journey characterized by faith and hope in Jesus Christ, and faithfulness to the new covenant he has established.

In today’s reading we are warned not to get sidetracked, but to stay on the path that God has chosen for us. How then shall we live?

Work at:

+ listening to God
+ being thankful
+ pleasing God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe
+ living in peace with everyone
+ living a holy life
+ looking after each other

Watch out for:

+ a poisonous root of bitterness
+ immorality or godlessness
+ the refusal to listen to God

And finally – stay the course, holding onto Jesus.

You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people,
and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness….
– Hebrews 12:24

Questions for consideration:

  • Do you believe that the society in which you live is hostile to Christian living? Please explain?
  • What are some of the obstacle that you face personally? Please explain?
  • If Jesus has already forgiven us, why do we need to work at holy living? Please explain.
  • How do you listen to God for direction? What form does that take? Please explain.
  • Can you think of someone you can help today – a pilgrim who is struggling? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Life-Support Prayer:

 Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the blessing of children and the hope they give for the future of our faith. Watch over them and protect them from the wiles and deceit of the evil one. Teach them that your ways bring abundant life, and strengthen them in Christ Jesus, so that they will never know a day apart from you. We ask this in Jesus name, and for your glory. Amen.

Prayer for Living in the Peace of God (in the tradition of Francis of Assisi):

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is error, truth; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may seek not so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

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“This World is Not My Home” – Charity Youth Bible School

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Monday Morning: 24 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 12:1-13 ~ Faith runs with endurance

Monday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for the Renewal of Life – Monday)

O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Hebrews 12:1-13 (NLT)

God’s Discipline Proves His Love

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
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Morning Reflection:

Faith Runs with Endurance

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith,
let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.
And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.
Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
– Hebrews 12:1-2 –

God has given each one of us our own long-distance race to run – no two of us are alike in our abilities, and no two courses are alike in their challenges – and yet we all will meet at the same finish line – the throne of God.

To this end, we are coached and encouraged on how to finish well in today’s reading:

+ Remember the examples of others who trusted God and finished well
+ Remove anything that slows you down, or trips you up, i.e prevents you from trusting God
+ Prepare to endure pain and hardship over the course of the race that God has given you
+ Pace yourself by keeping your eyes on Jesus who ran the race before you, and is with you now
+ Expect a reward for finishing well – victory over death, endless joy, and your inheritance in full as a child of God

Questions for consideration:

  • As you consider the race that God has given you, how long have you been running with Jesus? Please explain?
  • What are some of the obstacles that you have overcome? Please explain.
  • What are some of the hardships that you have endured? Please explain.
  • How has keeping your eyes on Jesus helped you to persevere? Please explain.
  • On reflection, what have you learned in your run with Jesus? Please explain.
  • Looking  ahead, what are some of the obstacles and challenges you face? Please explain.
  • Where do you need God’s help in order to finish well? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Life Support Prayer:

 Heavenly Father: Send help to those for whom life seems overwhelming. Send them godly people to walk with them through their darkness into your glorious light. Pour out your Spirit on them and guide them into your Truth, that they may walk in your Way, and enter into your Life – through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with you in unity with the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for Endurance:

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical Body of your Son: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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“For All the Saints” – BBC Big Sing


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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Saturday Morning, 22 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 11:32-40 ~ Faith makes heroes

Saturday Morning

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Opening:  (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Reading from the Book of Hebrews 11:32-40 (NLT)

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death.

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
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Morning Reflection:

Faith makes heroes.

All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith,
yet none of them received all that God had promised.

– Hebrews 11:30

The Old Testament is full of good models of persevering, living faith and today we are reminded of several of them, and what they accomplished. It’s important to note that none of these heroes was perfect, and yet God approved of the faith of each one.

  • In some cases, by faith these heroes accomplished great things.
  • In other cases, these heroes were persecuted, tortured and killed because of their faith.
  • But in every case they stayed the course by faith because they believed in the better future that God had promised them.

“. . . it is the future, and not the past, that molds the present. . . .” (William L. Lane)

Hebrews Chapter 11 is intended to inspire us to trust and obey God, even if we don’t realize God’s promises to us in our lifetime.

Questions for consideration:

  • Do you believe that God can make you a hero of faith? Why / Why not? Please explain.
  • How has God positioned you to uniquely bear witness to your faith? What are your opportunities? What are your challenges? Please explain.
  • When you think of God’s promises for a better future, what comes to mind? Please explain.
  • What would it / does it take to live as a child of that promise? Please explain.
  • What do you need to do? What do you need God to do? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Life Support Prayer:

 Heavenly Father: Fill us with Your Spirit, that all who work to protect life will show that we belong to you by how we love one another and how we treat others. I pray for those who are facing life and death decisions right now, that they may be attracted to you, and receive your love and hope and help through us. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Prayer in Times of Suffering or Weakness:

Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: I hold up all my weakness to your strength, my failure to your faithfulness, my sinfulness to your perfection, my loneliness to your compassion, my little pains to your great agony on the Cross. I pray that you will cleanse me, strengthen me, guide me, so that in all ways my life may be lived as you would have it lived, without cowardice and for you alone. Show me how to live in true humility, true contrition, and true love. Amen. 

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“Press On” – Selah

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Friday Morning: 21 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 11:17-31 ~ Faith is tested.

Friday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for Endurance – Friday)

Almighty God, whose beloved Son first suffered pain and crucifixion before entering into glory: Mercifully grant that we, walking in his footsteps, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Hebrews 11:17-31 (NLT)

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.

It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.

It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.

It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.

It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.

It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.

It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.

It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
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Morning Reflection:

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him.
– Hebrews 11:17

It’s difficult to get beyond the first couple of verses in today’s reading. God had big plans for Abraham – he would become the father of many nations with descendants as many as the stars in the skies. And yet, God tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to give up not only the son he loved, but also his hopes and dreams for the future.

How could Abraham do such a thing – so counter to the promises that God had made to him? Here’s how Abraham reasoned – If Isaac dies, God can raise him from the dead. And so God did – so to speak – Isaac was spared and God remained faithful to his covenantal promise.

The Gospel of John reminds us –

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

– John 3:16

And the Apostle Paul pleads with us –

I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.
Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable.
This is truly the way to worship him
. – Romans 12:1

Abraham was willing to continue to trust and obey God, even if it meant giving up his son. And God himself did just that – he gave up his Son so that we might live forever.

Questions for consideration:

  • What do you think it means to give yourself as a living and holy sacrifice to God? Please explain.
  • Abraham was willing to give up a loved one in trust and obedience to God? If God asked that of you, who comes to mind and how do you think you would respond? Please explain.
  • Have you received a promise from God that is yet to be fulfilled in this life? Please explain.
  • What does it cost you to trust and obey God now, believing he will fulfill his promise to you – if not now, then in eternity? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Life Support Prayer:

 Heavenly Father: Pour out Your Spirit on all who advocate for the protection of human life. Deliver us from anger triggered by Christian apathy toward the desperate circumstances of the widows and orphans living among us. Fill us with a spirit of kindness and self-control, and give us the words to speak the truth, gently and lovingly – that we may act with love and compassion toward those who disagree with us. Thank You Lord for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins – remind us that He died for all of us, and that He alone will judge the living and the dead. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer for Knowing and Loving God:

O God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you: Help us so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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“Before The Throne Of God” – Lee Scott

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Thursday Morning: 20 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 11:1-16 ~ Faith confirms and convicts.

Thursday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for Guidance – Thursday)

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Hebrews 11:1-16 (NLT)

Great Examples of Faith

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
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Morning Reflection:

Faith confirms and convicts.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
– Hebrews 11:1

In today’s reading, faith is described along with examples of old testament saints who persevered in faith.

So what is the nature of faith? Faith confirms our confidence in Christ, and convicts us of our hope in Christ. Faith is the basis of all the Christian life means, and all the Christian hopes for. Faith is essential for connecting with God. Faith is a way of viewing all of life, what lies ahead as well as what is in the past. It involves accepting God’s viewpoint as He has revealed it in His Word.

It is impossible to please God without faith.
Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and
that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
– Hebrews 11:6

So how did faith play out in the lives of some of the old testament saints?

  • By faith – They understood the entire universe was formed at God’s command
  • By faith – Abel offered God his first and best
  • By faith – Noah built an Ark before it began to rain
  • By faith – Abraham went out not knowing where he was going
  • By faith – Sarah was able to give birth to a son in her old age
  • By faith – Abraham lived as a stranger, looking forward to eternity
  • By faith – They expected God to reward their faithfulness

Questions for consideration:

  • Where would you place yourself on the faith scale – from 1 (zero) to 10 (hero)? Please explain.
  • Can you think of an example where you exercised faith by believing without seeing? Please explain.
  • Which of the examples of faith listed above speak to your present circumstances? Please explain.
  • What do you expect to receive from God as a reward for your faithfulness? Please explain.
  • How long are you willing to wait for God to fulfill is promises to you? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Life Support Prayer:

 Heavenly Father: Raise up capable leaders in every faith community – grounded in Your Word and empowered by Your Spirit – whom You can use to mobilize the work of loving and protecting human life. And produce in me the character and faith required to support this good work. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer for Increased Faith:

Mighty Everlasting Father, I humbly come before Your throne of grace and mercy, laying down my life before You. Only You can satisfy the longing within me; You are my heart’s desire. I yearn to be in Your Holy presence, constantly seeking Your will and Your great plans for my life. Draw me nearer and closer to You daily, as my thirst is quenched by Your springs of living waters. Increase my confidence and boldness that I may move forward in faith wherever You send me. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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“By Faith” – Keith & Kristyn Getty

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen